WD Judge of Self-Published Book Awards Comments on Lifeliner

Published Categorised as Reviews, News, Lifeliner

Almost a year ago, I submitted Lifeliner to the 16th Annual Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book Awards. I recently heard from them, much to my surprise. Unfortunately, my book “was not among the winners.” That’s a nice way to put it; they gave me a participation certificate. The winners will not be announced publicly until April 2009.

I finished reading the letter, my stomach leaden, my eyes glazing over “competition was particularly fierce this year” and flipped the pages to the enclosed commentary. I figured the judge hadn’t liked it much, but, again, WD (Writer’s Digest) surprised me, for Judge #51 rated it highly in the Life Stories category. I guess competition was fierce!

The commentary begins with a summary:

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “poor” and 5 meaning “excellent,” please evaluate the following:

Structure and organization: 5 [Greg and Ian, take a bow for helping me on that]

Grammar: 4 [Amazing since my injury had shot much of it out of my head, but the iUniverse editors did good work.]

Cover design: 4 [That was courtesy of the cover designer at iUniverse; I was having 2nd thoughts about the cover.]

Ramryge angels at Gloucester Cathedral, England

Brain injury grief is

extraordinary grief

research proves

needs healing.

WD asks the judge to write essay answers to two questions. First one: What did you like best about this book?

S/he began: The author is clearly intelligent and well spoken. [All that exhausting, endless brain rehab work was worth it!] She has a strong command of the written word. She tells a compelling and all but unheard of story — the story of Judy Taylor, the first person to be treated with a long-term inrtavenous feeding tube — or what is now known as TPN, total parenteral nutrition. [It is unheard of in lay circles and pretty dramatic too, so why is the Canadian media yawning over it? They probably think it’s fiction and nothing like that could happen here.]

S/he says further down the page: I especially enjoy how she wove in her own emotions and experiences and her relationship with Judy. [Kudos to Greg for suggesting first-person!] I was also impressed by the extensive research and old-school investigation techniques she employed. [All done pre-injury, and why is it old-school anyway? Shouldn’t this kind of work be standard for authors and journalists of non-fiction? Still, I’m doing a little happy waggle at this compliment.] She didn’t only rely on her memory [good thing!] of her father and Judy, but rather she interviewed countless people (and taped the interviews) over a stretch of 9 years, and thoroughly investigated newspaper reports and medical reports. She also annotated every subject of whom she interviewed and explained his or her qualifications to report on Judy. [That’s all together at the back of the book so as to not interrupt the flow of the story. And boy did it take me forever to get it done.] … The cover itself is remarkably professional for a self-pub. [Kudos to the iUniverse cover designer. That was the bonus I got from having Lifeliner declared Editor’s Choice.]

Now comes the good part. How did my book suck?! Or as WD puts it, How can the author improve this book?

In two words — title and foreword.

The title is too vague: Lifeliner does not specifically address the issue of intravenous feeding tubes. [I thought it did, or rather the people who live on TPN, starting with Judy, but what do I know, eh?]

But s/he asks me a good question: what sets this book from the lot of other survival tales (of which there seem to be no limit). [Get the feeling this judge was getting a tad bored with survival tales?]

S/he goes on to say that the subtitle “needs to be more specific.” I agree with that part. Perhaps “the woman who could not eat”?

As for the Foreword, s/he would remove it and writes: It was far too wordy and filled with medical jargon to hook anyone in.

Well, as a reader I rarely read Forewords first. And, except for the odd, magnificently written one, I don’t find any influencing me on whether or not to pick up a book. I usually rely on the back cover copy, the plot, and the writing to make that decision. I’ve given up on covers because so many seem to be on a totally different subject from what the book is about. Prof. Wretlind was very kind and supportive of me and this project, and so for that reason alone, I won’t remove it.

I still don’t know how to respond to this. On the one hand, I feel like I missed an honourable mention, if not a prize, by a hair. On the other hand, I feel flattered that a professional in the writing business regards my book and my work this highly. In time, I’m sure, the former feeling will fade, and the latter will stay.

My Duck logo walking on my books in pink and blue shading.



We don’t spam! We will never sell or share your data with anyone.

%d bloggers like this: